Seven years after his solo debut album Grace/Wastelands Pete Doherty is back, releasing his latest creation Hamburg Demonstrations on the 2nd of December 2016. The Babyshambles/Libertines frontman’s debut was generally well received by music critics in 2009, with The Observer stating the album said “goodbye to Pete Libertine the Rehab King, and say hello to Peter Doherty, outstanding singer-songwriter and charismatic poet-vagabond. It's a pleasure finally to meet him." With this in mind, Hamburg Demonstrations looks set to be a hit with fans, embodying political and social comments into his famous simplistic poetry and slacker melodies.
Produced, recorded and mixed by Johann Scheerer, Doherty traveled to Hamburg to create the album, after turning up ‘unannounced’ at the Clouds Hill Recordings studio and moving to the German city for six months. The album certainly reflects the mindset of Doherty, a relaxed and comfortable feel encompasses all the tracks regardless of content, suggesting the artist enjoyed this endeavour and his time in Europe.
The single off the album; ‘I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)’ is a far more tranquil affair than the ferocity of the Libertines and Babyshambles. It opens with a quiet and ambient guitar solo, characteristic of Doherty’s music, and is a fine, melodic example of Doherty’s ability to rely on his lyricism rather than scuzzy guitars and percussion. The single, released in September, is full of poetic charm and undoubtedly excited fans about the direction of the full album.
Doherty follows through with the rest of Hamburg Demonstrations. One of the most anticipated tracks from the December release is a new recording of the Amy Winehouse tribute ‘Flags of The Old Regime’ (now called ‘Flags From The Old Regime’). The track is endlessly haunting, evoking Doherty’s sensitivity around the subject of Winehouse so well that it is hard not to empathise with the emotions conveyed in his lyrics. The track is wholesome, raw and beautifully sincere. Doherty maintains a quietness in his voice throughout the entire track that is soulful and fragile, demonstrating the lost friendship following Winehouse’s passing in 2011.
The depth of this album typified by Doherty’s track ‘Hell to Pay at the Gates of Heaven’, written after the Paris attacks last November. Doherty’s lyrics lament the idea that young people are now choosing guns over guitars: “Come on boys, choose your weapon, J-45 or AK-47.” Despite the topic of the track being somewhat sensitive, Doherty displays his frustration with the violence of young people in an upbeat and slightly mocking tone. The track has a trivial feel to it, that weaves perfectly in and out of Doherty’s well crafted poetry that critiques the attacks, while encouraging young people to pursue music as a means of expression.
‘Kolley Kibbler’, the opening track of the album is equally poetically charming inspired by Kolley Kibbler, the newspaper man who meets a sticky end at the beginning of Brighton Rock. The track introduces the entire album as a fresh release from Doherty that is entirely recognisable, but also fun and a world away from the drug fuelled lyricism that dominated his Libertines years. The track is youthful, playful and a fantastic choice as the album opener.
Hamburg Demonstrations is, all in all, a coherent and beautifully simple album that was well worth the seven year wait since Grace/Wastelands. Doherty manages to pour his heart and soul into every track while displaying a calmness that reflects his current mindset gracefully. The album will undoubtedly be a hit with old fans and anyone willing to give Doherty another chance.